The Collaboration between Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio

© 2013 by Jensen DG. Mañebog
[Editor's update: April 2020]

BORN ON November 30, 1863, Andres Bonifacio y de Castro, founder and later the ‘Supremo’ (supreme leader) of the Katipunan, was two-year younger than Jose Rizal.

Bonifacio was the eldest of five children of Santiago Bonifacio, a tailor who served as a teniente mayor of Tondo, Manila, and Catalina de Castro, a mestiza born of a Spanish father and a Filipino-Chinese mother. When his parents died of sickness, Andres stopped attending school to support his siblings. He made and sold canes and paper fans, crafted posters for commercial firms, worked in the British trading firm ‘Fleming and Company’, later transferred as storehouse worker to the German trading firm ‘Fressell and Company’, and even moonlighted as an actor in moro-moro plays.

Andres was self-educated, having read local and international books in his time. Aside from Spanish and Tagalog, he could speak English, which he learned from the British firm where he worked.

Refer these to your siblings/children/younger friends:

Rizal and Bonifacio Collaborations

Bonifacio had read Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. On July 3, 1892, he joined Rizal’s La Liga Filipina, being one of the 20 attendees in the meeting administered by Rizal at the house of Doroteo Ongjunco at Ilaya Street, Tondo, Manila. (Read: The La Liga Filipina objectives)

When Rizal was exiled to Mindanao, Bonifacio and others revived La Liga in Rizal’s absence, recruiting members for it.

Disagreements on how reform must be attained soon emerged however as some members wanted armed revolution whereas others liked a peaceful reform. The La Liga was thus dissolved before long and its membership split into two groups: the ‘Cuerpo de Compromisarios’ which comprised those who preferred peaceful reform, and the ‘Katipunan’ which consisted of the radicals led by Bonifacio. The ‘Cuerpo’ ultimately died out while the Katipunan attracted many Filipinos.

Bonifacio and his compatriots officially founded the Katipunan on July 7, 1892 when Rizal was to be deported to Dapitan. Considerably inspired by Jose Rizal, they elected him (Rizal) honorary president (without his knowledge) and the Katipuneros used his name as one of their passwords. Moreover, instead of using the old Spanish spelling of letter “c” for the name of the society, Bonifacio preferred the Tagalog spelling of “k”, as suggested by Rizal on his earlier La Solidaridad article as a way of promoting nationalism.

Bonifacio, whose pseudonym in the society was ‘May Pag-asa’ (There is Hope), became Katipunan’s Supremo (supreme leader) in 1895. Inspired by Rizal’s writings, the Katipunan created its organ, ‘Kalayaan’ (Freedom) in which Bonifacio wrote several articles like the poem ‘Pag-ibig sa Tinubúang Lupa’ (Love for One´s Homeland) under the penname ‘Agapito Bagumbayan’.

Being the Supremo, Bonifacio supervised a council meeting of Katipunan leaders in Pasig on May 3, 1896. When the council decided to consult first Jose Rizal before launching a revolution, Bonifacio sent Pio Valenzuela to Dapitan. Rizal nonetheless politely refused to sanction the uprising, believing that a revolution would be unsuccessful without arms and monetary support from wealthy Filipinos. He nonetheless advised that if the Katipunan were to start a revolution, it had to ask for the support of rich and educated Filipinos.

Although it was said that Bonifacio bluntly denounced Rizal as coward for his ambiguous stand on revolution, he (Bonifacio) nonetheless used Rizal’s novels as an inspiration, basis, and as a source of military tactics for the revolution. So influential was Rizal to the Katipueros that theyshouted his name as part of the society’s battle cry.

The Spanish authorities had known the existence of the Katipunan in August 1896 while Rizal was quarantined aboard a ship in Manila Bay, waiting for the next ship that would bring him to Cuba to serve as a volunteer doctor. Bonifacio thus saw the chance to rescue Rizal from the Spanish authorities. Disguising themselves as ship crew, Bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto, and Guillermo Masangkay had entered the pier where Rizal’s ship was docked. Jacinto personally met with Rizal but the physician refused the suggestion to escape and join Katipunan’s imminent uprising.

Bonifacio led the launching of the Philippine Revolution toward the end of August 1896. Rizal, on the other hand, left for Cuba on September 3, but was later declared as prisoner onboard, and was imprisoned in Monjuich when he reached Spain in October. He was then sent back to the Philippines and imprisoned in Fort Santiago upon his return.

At the onset of December1896, the criminal hearing of Rizal’s case started. When asked about his connections to Katipunan leaders, he denied to the end that he knew Andres Bonifacio (Bantug & Ventura, 1997, p. 141). Rizal was charged, among other things, with being the principal organizer and the living soul of the Filipino insurrection that was launched by Bonifacio’s group.

Rizal’s execution on December 30, 1896 served as the catalyst that intensified the Katipunan’s revolution. After Rizal’s martyrdom, Bonifacio wrote the first Tagalog translation of Rizal’s farewell poem (later named ‘Mi Ultimo Adios’)to which he (Bonifacio) gave the title ‘Pahimakas’ (Farewell).

Bonifacio’s Death, Heroism, and ‘Presidency’

Together with his brother Procopio, Andres was charged with sedition and treason against Emilio Aguinaldo’s government and conspiracy to murder ‘El Presidente.’ Found guilty by the jury consisted exclusively of Aguinaldo's men, the Bonifacio brothers were executed on May 10, 1897 in the Maragondon mountains in Cavite.

On February 16, 1921, just twenty five (25) years after the launching of the revolution by the Katipunan, the members of the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 2496, proclaiming November 30 of every year a legal holiday to commemorate the birth of its Supremo, Andres Bonifacio.

Despite the absence of any official and legal declaration categorically stating them as national heroes, both Rizal and Bonifacio are given the implied recognition of being such for having shown exemplary acts of patriotism and heroic deeds to attain Philippine independence. Both heroes are commemorated annually nationwide on their respective birth day.

Some historians have been pushing for the recognition of Bonifacio as the first President of the Philippines instead of the officially recognized Emilio Aguinaldo. The claim is based on the historical fact that Bonifacio had established a Philippine government through the Katipunan before the government led by Aguinaldo was controversially created at the Tejeros Convention on March 22, 1897.

In August 1896, before the revolution was launched, Bonifacio reorganized the Katipunan into a de facto revolutionary government with him as the President (and commander-in-chief of the revolutionary forces) and the Supreme Council as his cabinet. In fact, Bonifacio as the President of the Philippine revolutionary government had issued a general proclamation on August 28 mandating all Filipinos to rise simultaneously and attack Manila on August 29.

Andres Bonifacio was married twice: first to a certain Monica who died of leprosy; then in 1893 to Gregoria de Jesus of Caloocan (who was later known as the ‘Lakambini’ of the Katipunan). Gregoria and Andres had one son named Andres (Junior) who died of smallpox at young age. (© 2013 by Jensen DG. Mañebog)


Jose Rizal's Collaborations with Other Heroes by Jensen DG. Mañebog
It scholarly identifies Jose Rizal’s collaborations with heroes like Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Marcelo Del Pilar, Antonio Luna, Mariano Ponce, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Jose Alejandrino, and Edilberto Evangelista. Featuring their respective lives, it also tackles controversial issues like Luna’s supposed diversion of the Republic’s wealth, resulting in the Cojuangco clan becoming very rich ...

HOMEPAGE of Interesting ARTICLES on Rizal's Life, Works, and Writings

Jensen DG. Mañebog, the contributor, is a book author and professorial lecturer in the graduate school of a state university in Metro Manila. His unique book on Rizal comprehensively tackles, among others, the respective life of Rizal’s parents, siblings, co-heroes, and girlfriends. (e-mail:
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TAGS: Jose Rizal, The Collaboration between Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio, History, Philippine Studies, Filipino Heroes


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